pole road

A road of logs, poles, or planks was commonly laid down on the roadbed in the nineteenth century to traverse an area of wet ground or thick mud in spring, to make the road passable. In states such as Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee travelers can still find valleys and streams named for these old roads—Pole Road Hollow, Pole Road Run, Pole Road Gulch. The folklorist Mary Hufford at the University of Pennsylvania mentions the related corduroy roads in the cedar swamps in South Jersey, which were used to bring cedar out of the swamps. Corduroy suggests the construction of the road: poles laid horizontally together. A similar construction is sometimes used in national parks today to protect the fragile ecology of a wetland or seaside.

Susan Brind Morrow